On Monday, April 15, Concord, Massachusetts, is taken back in time as the city celebrates a state holiday, Patriots’ Day. On this day, Massachusetts commemorates the 1775 Battle of Lexington and Concord. This unique holiday is only celebrated in New England, in the states of Maine and Massachusetts.
Start of the conflict
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote the memorable phrase, “the shot heard round the world” to describe what happed during that fateful day in April in 1775. It was part of the “Concord Hymn” that was written by Emerson, dedicated to the monument erected near the North Bridge in Concord. It was not literally a shot fired from a musket, but more the fight for the ideals of self-determination and liberty that until today is exercised around the world.
It was the first time that the British government and the American colonists engaged in an armed conflict, after more than ten years of political disagreement. The colonists were demanding to retain their rights as British subjects during that era. The feud resulted in an armed clash between British soldiers and the militia members of the colonists and the minute men on the North Bridge of Concord, the Lexington and the road to Boston (Battle Road). The initial engagement started on April 19, 1775. It was an armed conflict that escalated into an eight-year war of independence.
During the ensuing American War of Independence from 1775 to 1783 or the American Revolutionary War, two groups of armed men served in the military, the militia and the minute men. The militia were able-bodied men aged 16 to 60. They were required to keep a serviceable firearm and they were required to serve as citizen army part of the time. They were mainly in defense against the French and the Indians, usually fighting side by side with English soldiers. The Massachusetts Provincial Congress called on the militia to resign their commissions under the British government after Worchester County Convention in October 1774 and new elections were held. Special companies called “minute men” were then formed. The minute men were volunteers who trained harder and frequently than the militia and were paid after each training. They kept their equipment and their arms with them and were required to be ready and able to march within a minute of receiving a warning.
Patriots’ Day is remembered in Maine and Massachusetts. In fact, it is a non-working holiday. This year, the holiday is officially observed on April 15. On the other hand, in Wisconsin State, it is April 19 that is regarded as a special day of observance. School children are given history lessons focusing on Patriots’ Day.
Patriots’ Day Celebrations
Most people will head out to the Minute Man National Historical Park and various parks and historical sites in Lexington and Concord. History comes to life with volunteers dressed in their 18th century finery.
One of the most interesting aspects of this holiday is the commemoration of the battles of 1775. Many people join in re-enactments of the battles. A highlight of the event is the ringing of the bell that indicated that the British soldiers were coming so that the local troops could prepare for battle.
300th year celebration
In Lexington Massachusetts, some of the biggest Patriots’ Day celebrations are held. This year, the annual Patriots’ Day Parade will be held on April 14, 2013 starting at two in the afternoon. The early celebration coincides with the 300th founding anniversary of Lexington.
This year’s celebration promises to be a big one, with local groups, various school bands and a special float designed and organized by the Lexington Youth Commission, which is made up of some 30 high school students from the area.
Over at Wilson Park in Bedford, MA, there will be a Liberty Pole Capping ceremony. At the end of the marching of the troops, a Bedford Minuteman will then go up the pole and place a red colored cap on the top to commemorate the defiance of the people against King George.
The biggest event associated with the celebration of Patriots’ Day is the Boston Marathon. This year marks the 117th time that the event is held. It is the second oldest race on foot that draws such a huge crowd of runners from around the world, and thousands of spectators. This is the reason why many people from the city refer to Patriots’ Day as Marathon Monday. Boston’s pride, the Boston Red Sox also plays at their home field at Fenway Park during this day.
Patriots’ Day, a movable holiday celebrated in April as a state holiday in Maine and Massachusetts should not be confused with Patriot’s Day, which commemorates those who perished during the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks.